Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Highlighting Hair - What Age Is Too Young?

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="155" caption="All Rights Reserved"]Farouk


Dear Karen,

I have a 9-year-old daughter, Kim, who asks repeatedly to have her hair highlighted. What age is appropriate for her to begin getting her hair colored?

Kim's Mom


Dear Kim's Mom,

Thank you so much for visiting and for your email.  Believe it or not, this is a common question and some girls as young as 4 or 5 are getting highlights, especially when they're in beauty pageants.

As far as your own daughter, a few key factors should be considered before allowing your daughter to alter her appearance in any significant way.  Have a chat with your daughter to determine where her head's really at with regard to the hair color enhancements.

Ask your daughter the following questions of why she might want highlights:

1.  Because of peer pressure? 

Are your daughter's friends pressuring her to conform to their views on highlights?  Peer pressure can start very early in life and your daughter may want highlights just to fit in.  But does she really want them for herself or because of her friends?

[caption id="attachment_421" align="alignright" width="169" caption="Short Bobbed Hair With Highlights And Lowlights"]Short Bobbed Hair With Highlights And Lowlights

2.  Due to bullying? 

If you suspect the key to your daughter's wish for highlights is because she is being taunted or bullied, those issues have to be addressed.  Highlights may not fix a potential bullying problem but only make it worse.

3.  Lack of confidence of self-esteem?

Does the idea of having her hair colored make your daughter think she will have more self confidence?  If you suspect this is the reason than talk to your daughter about why she might be feeling bad about herself.

4.  In the name of fun or fashion?

Girls are starting very early with fashion.  If your daughter loves to experiment with fashions, have fun with her style and change up her look, she may just want to have a little fun with her hair.

If you feel your daughter has a healthy level of confidence, is creative and likes to show off her fashions, limited highlights to start may be alright if you feel okay with the decision.

5.  Deeper reasons for highlighting hair

Is there some other deeper reason for your daughter's request? Does she lack confidence, exhibit consistent low self-esteem or express the idea that highlights will instantly make her beautiful? If so, then you will need to open a dialogue about unhealthy patterns.

It's healthy for pre-teens and teens to take a balanced pride in their hair and appearance.  However, it can be dangerous if that pride in their appearance is unbalanced or your daughter is harboring too much emphasis on external physical aspects.

Too much emphasis on hair, beauty and the body at an early age can lead to potentially unhealthy patterns as your daughter evolves and grows.

It's important for your daughter to understand that beauty is not just about the outside.  The more confidence that she can develop, the better she will feel about herself.  The less chance there will that she will desire external symbols to fold under any outside pressures or value systems.

Your Feelings About The Situation

After chatting with your daughter to determine her true motivations then you have to ask yourself how you feel about the situation.  Do you believe your daughter is old enough to start having her hair done?

Keep in mind that highlights, low lights or any type of hair color will require maintenance and upkeep to make sure the root regrowth is managed properly.  Obviously at 9 years of age your daughter can't drive herself to the salon every 8-10 weeks for touch-ups. There is also a cost involved.  Do you have the means to handle her hair re-growth needs?

Ultimately the final answer is up to you, your time constraints, your budget and your feelings about your daughter's motives and goals.  If you want to compromise you can consider alternative and options.

Consider Alternatives And Options

Talk with your daughter to determine how significant the desired highlights would be.  Does your daughter want just one or two sections around the face or does she want a full head of highlights, low lights and maybe even a base color change?

A few hairline framing highlights can be relatively inexpensive compared to a partial or full head of highlights.  If you add low lights or alter the base color, that can a significant amount to the total bill.

If you want to compromise with your daughter you may offer her just a few highlights around the face in just 1-2 shades lighter than her current hair color to minimize the re-growth line and the cost for upkeep and maintenance.

You can also opt for just a few splashes of color in the fringe area.  Adding hair hues is  the perfect way to provide interest and dimension to the fringe area. It's a great way to add a fresh new look to bangs without cutting, reshaping, chopping or altering the basic look.

Or you may consider allowing her to have just a few temporary fusion extensions put in around her face to give her the look of highlights without the root re-growth issues.

Talk to your favorite professional hairstylist and ask for prices and options to give your daughter a little bit of color without major long-term headaches.

Other Considerations

Once you have determined the true reason for your daughter's highlighting desires be sure to check with her school to make sure there are no rules against highlights, low lights or unique hair color.  Many a student has been sent home for inappropriate hair colors, cuts, styles and accessories.


While you may feel concerned about your daughter's age and interest in highlights, it actually offers you a great opportunity to open a dialogue with her about who she is.  Remember to be mindful about not placing major emphasis on beauty with regard to yourself since pre-teen and teens are impacted by the actions of their parents. 

If you have highlights, low lights or other chemical hair services then you may understand why your daughter wants to follow in your footsteps.  If not, then you have a great opportunity to know your daughter better.

Best wishes,

Karen Marie Shelton



Credits For Top Two Images:

Farouk Systems

Hair cut, Color & Styling:  Mikko Horttana, Artistic Director

Creative Director:  Jason Yates

Creative Artist:  Woddy Michleb

Photography:  Babak

Make Up:  Giancarlo Intini

All other images from DC - All Rights Reserved

By submitting your question, you grant full permission to to publish it. Due to the volume of mail we receive, Karen regrets that she cannot respond to every question personally.

To AskKaren a question, send an e-mail to: [email protected]

Social Media Network Information

Please follow us on Twitter at: I look forward to meeting new people from all walks of Twitter and learning from their Tweets.

New On
Active HairTalk Threads
Wanna talk?
HairTalk® is the place for you!
Recent Topics:
Quick Poll
Do you wear bangs in your hairstyle?
Daily Hair Tip
To combat cowlicks apply pomade or setting gel to the spot & blow dry w/ nozzle aimed downwards. Longer hair helps weigh down cowlicks as will tiny barrettes or clips. Pulling hair into a ponytail or braids will tighten down the cowlick. Experiment until you get results.
Top Gallery Images
Copyright 1997-2024,, All Rights Reserved.